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Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears by…

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears (original 1975; edition 1980)

by Verna Aardema

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2,4951772,440 (4.08)10
Title:Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears
Authors:Verna Aardema
Info:Scholastic (1980), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:ETEC 525

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Why Mosquitos Buzz in People's Ears by Verna Aardema (1975)


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This retelling of a West African tale explains why mosquitoes buzz in people's ears. It begins by the watering hole, where the mosquito sees the iguana, and tells him about a farmer's yam the same size as the mosquito. The iguana finds the story unbelievable, and puts sticks in his ears so he doesn't have to listen to it. The iguana walks off, and passes by the python. The python greets the iguana, but is met with no reply, and assumes the iguana must be planning to do harm to him, so he goes inside the rabbit hole to hide for safety. The rabbit, seeing the python in her hole, got scared and ran out across the clearing. The crow sees the rabbit's panic, and caws through the forest to alarm others of the possible danger. The monkey hears the crow, and leaps through the trees to warn other animals. The monkey lands on a dead branch and it breaks, landing on the owl's nest and killing one of the owlets. The Mother Owl was so devastated that she did not wake the sun. King Lion called a meeting to discuss why Mother Owl had not woken the moon. She reveals why, and one by one, they trace their way back through the story, calling on each animals to explain their actions until they finally realize it was the mosquito who started it all. The animals all wanted the mosquito punished, and Mother Owl was satisfied enough to wake the sun. Now, the mosquito still buzzes in people's ears to see if they are still irritated with her. She is always answered with an irritated swat.

Personal Reaction:
This story is so fun! It's a creative story about why mosquitoes are so incredibly bothersome. The illustrations are beautiful and really capture the various emotions of the animals in the story. I can imagine this would be fun to read to a group.

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1. Because the book generously uses onomatopoeia, it would be really fun to have readers make their own noises for each of the animals and the actions it's associated with
2. The story is full of misunderstandings between the animals, so it may be fun to play the Telephone Game, where children sit in a circle and the first person whispers a word into the next person's ear, and so on until you get to the end and find that the word has changed.
3. Since Mother Owl experienced a terrible loss but was able to heal after getting justice, maybe have children discuss a time when they have been sad or when they have upset others, and what was done or could have been done that would have helped. ( )
  ClaudiaNormand | Feb 9, 2016 |
This is a form of traditional literature in that it is a folktale about how something so natural to us now actually took place according to the African culture. A long time ago, mosquito says something extremely silly to an iguana. The iguana became so tired of listening to the mosquito decided to put sticks in his ears, so he wouldn't be able to hear him anymore. When the other animals saw the iguana, they became frightened. This ended up causing a really horrible chain reaction in the animals. At one point, they became so frightened, a monkey killed a baby owl. When the mother owl forgot to wake up the sun after this, the animals finally figured out the problem...This all started with the mosquito. The animals were so enraged with the mosquito that to this day the mosquito buzzes around people's ears to see if we are all still made at him.

Personal Reaction:
My reaction to this story is that I liked it and found it very interesting. I really enjoy folktales and fables because I think it is interesting how other cultures tell stories to teach lessons. I also think children would find this story to be very interesting, and it definitely would be a good way to teach the class lessons on morals and so on.

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1). Use a timeline to practice sequencing the story from the first act of the mosquito to the final act of him buzzing in people's ears.
2). Use this story to practice cause and effect. One can use a T-Chart or some other kind of graphic organizer for this lesson. ( )
  Toods | Feb 8, 2016 |
In my opinion this is an excellent Children’s book. There are many reasons why I believed it was a book worth reading. First, I liked the idea of having animals as the main characters. This turned a moral that was serious, into an engaging story that children would be interested in. Instead of having a person would lie in someone’s ear, they had a mosquito that lied and affected the entire animal community. The illustrations also made the story more compelling and true to its culture. The pictures had many colors, patterns, and shapes that resembled that of a West African culture. For example, when the animals come together for the council, the entire page was filled with an array of colors and geometric shapes that each represented a different creature. These made the animals seem animated. Another way the book made the characters animated was incorporating onomatopoeia throughout. For instance, instead of the snake just slithering, he went “wasuwusu, wasawusu”. Lastly, this book pushes readers to think about tough issues and broaden perspectives, which led to the main idea of the story. The main idea is that people should not lie because it can affect many other people besides yourself. Not only did the lying mosquito affect the iguana, but also every other creature in his or her community. ( )
  CSoude3 | Feb 7, 2016 |
The motif of repetition presented as the lion retraces the chain reaction is captivating. I found myself thinking backwards through the story to piece it together before I read the lion doing the same. I think students would enjoy tracking the chain reaction in this story too. The illustrations make this book visually entertaining and the story line gets topped off with a silly ending that I love. I believe students would also find this ending hilarious.
  brynnschaal | Jan 16, 2016 |
This is a West African cumulative fable in which animals explain why mosquitoes buzz in people's ears. It has award winning Caldecott illustrations which have an African style. It shows cultural diversity, as well as the importance of manners and consequences.
  JuliannOlson2015 | Nov 30, 2015 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Verna Aardemaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dillon, DianeIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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For Marcia VanDuinen who heard this story first
First words
One morning a mosquito saw an iguana drinking at a waterhole.
Is everyone still mad at me?
Mosquito told me such a big lie, I couldn't bear to listen to it. So I put sticks in my ears.
I'd rather be deaf than listen to such nonsense!
It was the mosquito's fault
The mosquito said, "I saw a farmer digging yams that were almost as big as I am."
"What's a mosquito compared to a yam?" snapped the iguana grumpily.
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Book description
This West African pourquoi tale explains why mosquitoes buzz in people's ears. It all starts with Mosquito telling a lie to Iguana. Tired of listening to Mosquito, Iguana puts twigs in his own ears. When Python tries to talk to Iguana and Iguana doesn't respond to him, it sets off a chain of events that leads to the sun not rising in the morning. King Lion must learn the story of the events leading back to Mosquito's lie in order to get Mother Owl to call the sun. The story is enhanced by beautiful Caldecott winning illustrations.

If you enjoyed this story, try "Ahanti to Zulu: African Traditions".
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Reveals the meaning of the mosquito's buzz.

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